Rookie running back Giovani Bernard is emerging as a dangerous all-purpose threat for the Cincinnati Bengals.
The former North Carolina standout generated 95 total yards against the Steelers and scored two touchdowns on just 14 touches, which is expected to increase his workload to fall more in line with veteran starter Benjarvus Green-Ellis.
Bernard is averaging five yards per carry compared to Green-Ellis' 2.8 average.
“I think they are going to get more to 50/50 sooner than later, probably,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden told Cincinnati reporters. “That’s something I’m trying to figure out. Sometimes I need to know when Gio is in there because there might be a different set of plays for Gio more so than Benny.
“Really, they complement each other and both can do similar things. Gio, obviously, out in space is more productive. I try not to alter my play-calling too much when one is in there.”
With Bernard holding his own in blitz protection, Gruden now feels more comfortable leaving him in the game more often.
“We are obviously very happy with our running back situation the way it is,” Gruden said. “Honestly, if Gio is in the game, I am content. If BenJarvus is in the game, I’m fine with either one of them in there. I don’t have a problem.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.